Speech sounds are made through the use of your lips, tongue, and other parts of your mouth. For most children, speech sounds can be challenging during their early years of speech development. However, by 3 years old, most children can be understood by familiar listeners such as family, friends, and caregivers. This post provides some at-home speech sounds practice advice that you can incorporate as part of your everyday.

AD | This is a collaborative post with Noala.

Speech sounds delay is differentiated from language delay. Even if a speech sound delay is present, your child is able to understand and use language well. Whereas children with a language delay may use limited words compared to others at their age and may have difficulty understanding language. 

Which sounds should my child be saying? 

  • By 3 years old: h as in he, zh as in measure, y as in yes, w as in we, ng as in sing, m as in me, n as in no, p as in up, k as in car, t as in to, b as in be, g as in go, d as in do
  • By 3.5 years old: f as in if
  • By 4 years old: l as in lay, sh as in she, ch as in chew
  • By 4.5 years old: j as in jaw, s as in so, z as in is
  • By 5 years old:r as in red
  • By 6 years old: v as in Vegemite
  • By 8 years old: th as in this
  • By 8.5 years old: th as in thing

Considerations when your child may find it challenging: 

When you’re sitting with your child, find as many items around the room that start with their target sound. Go around and label them. You can put items in a bag with their target sound. Ask your child, “what’s in the bag” naming each one as you take them out. When you grocery shop, find items in the shop and label them. Talk about these items in short simple silly sentences.

How do we foster your child’s sound at-home, parent-led:

Working with your child on improving their overall speech sounds at home can be instrumental in their overall speech improvement. Here are 5 key ways you can do that at home, incorporating it into your everyday life:

  1. Speak clearly – speak to your child clearly and at a steady rate so that they hear models of speech sounds regularly throughout the day. 
  2. Get down to their level – speaking your child whilst maintaining eye contact at their level and then pronouncing and modelling the tricky word to them can help them to focus on the sound. 
  3. Repeat the word – Repeating the word to your child correctly can provide them with the opportunity to hear the correct pronunciation and then get them to repeat it back to you to, working on the correct sound. 
  4. Rhyming works – clapping your hands on the syllables of a word can help your child break down the words they are struggling on. 
  5. Clap the syllables – it is common for children to shorten words, like “nana” for “banana”. Instead of saying no, show them how to clap out the syllables of the words. “Banana” has 3 syllables. Let’s clap them out, “ba”, “na”, “na” – now let’s say it together, “banana”. Well done! Showing them positive praise. 

Check out the full blog from Noala for more tips on speech sound practice for children at home.

Do you need advice and guidance on speech sounds? 

Noala is on a mission to make speech and language therapy more accessible. Starting your speech sounds journey, you can chat with one of their speech therapists for free by booking a 10-minute chat here or sign up directly to their Speech Sounds Success program for free, here

If your child has a lisp, read my blog which shares 6 techniques to help a child overcome a lisp and use these speech sound strategies to create opportunities for parent-led practice.